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Gaza Team



 Open Studio 

Kamilia Abu Azra (head of department), Samer Abu Ghali, Ghaleb Abu Khater, Saber Qarmot, Emad Zorob, Mumen Khalifa, Mahmoud Alhaj, Mahmoud Al-Madhon, Ehab Abu Elenain, Khaled Jaber, Intisar Al fara, Saida Honaidq, Nawal Al-zraiy, Nosiba Abu Khater, Amany Abu Mostapha, Khitam Al-owaity, Elham Abu Hattab

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Break  Academy 

Ahmed Abu Hassira (Myuz) 

Ahmed Bustan

Ahmed Medhat

Adi heat (not on photo)

Netherlands Team


Ingrid Rollema 

Ingrid is a visual artist. Because she has been director of the Free Academy, Workplace for Visual Arts in The Hague for 7 years, she has a large network of artists and theorists. She connects people inside and outside of Gaza, she brings renowned artists from the Netherlands to Gaza for an exchange of experiences, and she gives lessons to young adults in the Netherlands using the life in Gaza as a starting point.Ingrid also collaborates with Hope's treasurer to generate grants and donations.


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Suzanne Groothuis

Suzanne is a visual artist who creates workshops and films both with the children in Gaza as in her hometown (Brussels). She visits the Open Studio in Gaza regularly and sometimes for longer periods. By spending more time there, and studying Arabic, she is able to have a close collaboration with the local team, a better understanding of the situation in Gaza and time to develop more intricate projects with the children. 

While being in Brussels, she keeps regular contact with the team in Gaza by exchanging ideas, experiences and inspiration.

Also she is the creator and admin of the Hope website.

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History: The Holland Office for Personal Encouragement was founded in 1996 (Chamber of Commerce number 04058566). In preceding years visits to Khan Younis in the southern part of the Gaza Strip were made. The history of the Open Studio is the history of people. It’s about a couple of Dutch people rising against the fundamental injustice that people on the other side of the Mediterranean are subjected to, to- gether with people living ‘under occupation’. Because HOPE is about the story of people we will describe their history. 

Founders: Holland Office for Personal Encouragement was established in 1996. Five people laid the foundations for HOPE.


From The Netherlands: 

 Riekus Feyen 

Educationalist and director of Mental Health Care Drenthe was already very well informed about developments in the field of psychological trauma counseling. His sense of justice, his drive, major organizational talent and huge network made him the ideal chairman of the HOPE Foundation. Riekus died in 2010. 

 Willem Vugteveen 

Willem Vugteveen was also working at Mental Health Care Drenthe, where he specialized in rehabilitation. In 1994 Willem organized the first trip to Gaza with a number of artists. These first trips were not yet very structured and sooner resembled big, festive statements against the injustice that the local people had to put up with in their daily lives. On the second trip Ingrid Rollema joined the group. After this trip the participants came to the conclusion that although they would continue their efforts, they would set up a structure in which people would be able to work independently. Willem’s main strength lies in his ability to make connections. 

 Ingrid Rollema 

Ingrid Rollema is a visual artist and international lawyer. From the very beginning she has been recruiting groups of artists who all contribute their own individual expertise in the fields of photography, dance, music and various kinds of visual art. By mutual agreement the group decided to focus attention on the arts while still asking psychologists to watch from the sidelines and intervene to give children individual counseling whenever necessary. However, the power of art still occupies center stage. Ingrid fully mobilizes her personal network. 

From the Palestine Red Crescent Society:

 Dr. Fathi Arafat 

Dr. Fathi Arafat, pediatrician, was President of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society [PRCS], and one of the founders of the Society in 1968. He established a number of hospitals in the Middle East. Dr. Fathi was a warm-hearted man and an art lover who had the gift to kindle enthusiasm in people and to break down boundaries: an innovator.

As a friend of Willem Vugteveen (of HOPE), Dr. Fathi requested Willem’s assistance in setting up a program for traumatized children. Aiming to make the connection between head, heart and matter, he thought of asking a sculptor who worked with basic materials to join the program.

Dr. Fathi Arafat died in 2004. 

 Dr. Jean Calder  

Dr. Jean Calder is an educator working with the PRCS in the Khan Younis. She is specialized in working with children with disabilities. Forced to leave Lebanon in 1983, she went to Cairo. In 1995 she moved to Gaza, where she now lives with ‘her’ two adult children [children of PRCS]. Dr. Jean is an Australian national. She immediately saw possibilities in using art to help psychologically traumatized children and together with Dr. Fathi started collaborating with Willem, Riekus and Ingrid to set up the Open Studio. Dr. Jean Calder died 28-11-2022

Who is Dr Jean?

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 Dr.Ir. Frans Geenen 


Recently retired from a senior management position at a Dutch multinational, Frans is now passionate to apply his international people, organisational and business skills to mentor, coach and advise individuals and organisations towards reaching their full potential.

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 Wim Rollema 


Wim Rollema has an economic background and, since 1989, has been actively responsible for the family business Rollema Transport. This company offers customer-specific solutions for logistics and technology with dedicated staff (around 90 FTEs) and innovative techniques.

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 Karin van der Heijden 


Karin van der Heijden is a dialysis nurse and quality officer at the Alrijne Hospital in Leiderdorp.

She is also a board member of a large VvE in Rijswijk.

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 Meta Knol 

Board Member

Art historian Meta Knol works at the intersection of culture, science and society. She is involved in various cultural and scientific initiatives, writes on contemporary art, recently co-founded the Ministry of the Future, and holds a number of board positions in the cultural sector.  


 Dr. Brigitte van der Waart 

Board Member

As organisational psychologist, Brigitte has been a director of her own international consultancy company for 25 years. She has also been director of a Women’s Health Centre looking after the most vulnerable amongst us. She is energised by supporting and developing people to stay or become effective in all aspects of their lives.

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 Dr. Anneke M. Westermann 

Board Member

Internist oncologist at the AMC (Amsterdam University Medical Centers).

The members of the board receive no remuneration for their activities. They are entitled to reimbursement of costs incurred in the performance of their duties and to a non-excessive attendance fee.

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Harry Cock and Sake Elzinga
From the very first visit to Gaza Harry Cock and Sake Elzinga were involved in the Open Studio’s development. Harry is involved to this day. He has, for instance, recorded life in Gaza, in photos, over a continuous period of time.

Niek van Nieuwenhuijzen and Gaby Wijzenbeek
Niek and Gaby gave a lot of advice on how to professionalize the HOPE foundation, especially where it concerned music and making the connection with psycho-social problems. They initiated the collaboration with PRCS University College of Ability Development in Khan Younis; and they also contributed their own specific knowledge of art and music therapy. Although the Open Studio uses a very different working method, it is hugely important to continually explore and guard the boundaries. Niek died on 23 November 2013. This was an enormous loss for the Hope Foundation.

In the Netherlands:
Stichting de Vrolijkheid
People: Rosh Abdelfatah - Ibrahim Al-Baz - Khaddouj Barghout - Paul Robbert Bruijninckx - Hekmat Dirbas - Robert Goddyn - Marsel Loermans - Jessy Rahman - Allysha Laarhoven

In Palestine:
The Dutch Representative Office
People: Jehad Abu Hattab - Maher Dawood - Mohammed Al Hawajri - Karam Sa'adoni - Tala Abd Al Hadi - Amal Nasr - Shareef Sarhan - Mohammed Shurrab

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